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The 15 Worst Race Car Crashes Ever

Automobile racing is a dangerous sport and the list of graphic videos of the worst race car crashes serves as a proof of the bravery which race driver’s exhibit out on the track. But luckily, vehicle safety technology has proved beneficial by increasing the safety throughout the year.

1. 1955 Le Mans disaster

People consider the deaths of famous racecar drivers the worst of the kind but they’re wrong. Year 1955 encountered the worst disaster in automotive racing history. At Le Mans, Jaguar driver Mike Hawthorn tardily noticed his pit crew’s signal to stop for gas and smashed on his brakes. Just behind him was Austin-Healey, driven by Lance Macklin, lost control and swerved straight across the track directly in front of Pierre Levegh driving a Mercedes-Benz 300SLR. Levegh ran into the ramp shaped back of the Austin-Healey at approximately 150mph and was sent airborne. Pierre was thrown from his Mercedes and died instantly. His Mercedes crashed into a dirt embankment, and flipped over, launching the front axle, engine, and hood of the Mercedes into the crowd. The axle careened through the grand stand that left a trail of bodies. The top spun through the spectators like a guillotine that decapitated full groups of people at a time. The engine itself slaughtered many as well. The Mercedes-Benz 300SLR made largely out of magnesium burst into flames and suddenly exploded when the fire marshals sprayed water on it. Eventually, 83 spectators were found dead and 120 injured. As the only driver unable to defend himself, Levegh was blamed. As more footage has been acquired over the past several years, however, it is obvious now that the Hawthorne and Macklin were responsible for the mishappening. A spectator who might have taken the first clip within the included video was killed.


2. Roger Williamson’s Fatal Crash

This is one of the hardest crashes to watch. In Roger Williamson’s second Formula One race, a tire failure likely caused his car to flip over and explode into flames. At first Williamson avoided serious injury, but later got trapped in his car. The unskilled safety marshals did not know what to do, nor were they equipped with fireproof clothes. Driver David Parley left his car and hurried across the track to save Williamson. David Purley could hear Williamson shouting for him to help. Purley tried real hard to put out the fire and turn Williamson’s car back over, begging the marshals to help him. Whereas the marshals did not do anything, Purley did his best but unfortunately failed as the other drivers simply drove past. Eight minutes later when the fire truck arrived, Williamson had already been dead because of asphyxiation. There was a lve broadcast of the whole scene.


3. Tom Pryce’s Fatal Crash

This video can really turn one’s stomach upside down. This is the case of year 1977 South African Grand Prix where Renzo Zorzi suffered a problem with his car. He pulled off the track immediately after realizing the problem. Zorzi’s car quickly caught fire, and Zorzi safely jumped out. This is where the slaughter began when two race marshals decided to hurry across the track with fire extinguishers. The first marshal had just made it, but the second one, a 19 year old named Frederick Jansen Van Buren was clouted by Tom Pryce who was driving at 170mph. Van Buren was ripped in half, and his body so horribly mutilated that his boss was only able to identify him by mustering all of other race marshals and seeing who was missing. But the bloodbath was not over yet. The 40-pound fire extinguisher of race marshal Van Buren had been carrying hit Pryce in the head with such force that Pryce’s helmet strap partially beheaded him. The fire extinguisher rested in the parking lot outside of the track, having flipping over the grandstand. Pryce died instantly. Pryce’s car kept plunging down the track at almost 170mph, ultimately crashing into the car of driver Jacques Laffite.


4. 1957 Mille Miglia Disaster

This could said to be the miniature version of the 1955 Le Mans disaster. In 1957, formula one racer Alfonso de Portago lost control of his Ferrari during the Mille Miglia race when one of his tires went flat. The car swerved from one side of the road to the other rolling over and slaying ten spectators, five of whom were children. Portago’s co-driver, Edmond Nelson, also died and Portago himself was cleaved in half. 1957 happened to be the last year the Mille Miglia to run as a full-on race.


5. Eddie Sachs & Dave MacDonald’s Fatal Crash

1964, Indianapolis 500 witnessed a dreadful accident that can never be forgotten. Dave MacDonald drove what many regarded as a horribly built racecar and lost control. MacDonald’s car hit the inside wall and exploded then swerved back across the track where Eddie Sachs’s car broadsided him, creating a second explosion. Johnny Rutherford, driving right behind Sachs was left with no choice other than hitting the garrotte and power through the carnage. With his car now on fire, Bobby Unser then broadsided Rutherford. Behind the car of Rutherford, droves Ronnie Duman, and was rear ended by Bobby Unser who now had no steering, causing Duman’s car to explode too. Dave MacDonald died two hours later in the hospital. Eddie Sachs died instantly in his car. Reportedly fellow drivers saw him struggling to get out. This had happened for the first time in history that the Indiana 500 was stopped, because of an accident.


6. Lorenzo Bandini’s Fatal Crash

1967 Monaco Grand Prix was unfortunate enough to be a witness the fatal accident of Lorenzo Bandini. The mishappening took place when The Ferrari driver lost control of his car. Snipping the guardrail with his rear-left wheel, Bandini skidded into a light pole. His car spanned over and burst into fire. Trapped in his car, Bandini received third degree burns. His body was burnt to 70%. He succumbed to his injuries three days later.


7. Gilles Villeneuve’s Fatal Crash

There could be barely anything as chilling as seeing a racecar driver ejected from his car during a crash. While decades ago, drivers hoped to be “thrown clear” of crash, modern racecars are built to provide a protective shell around the racer. Gilles Villeneuve was rising up as another of Formula One’s greatest drivers. This clip actually shows how his body catapulted across the track and fell into a safety fence. He died that night after having been put on life support.


8. Greg Moore’s Fatal Crash

Greg Moore was a young, driver in CART well liked by both fans and CART members. His charming career came to end when Moore lost control and crashed his car while going over 200mph. The top, exposed portion of Moore’s car collided with a concrete wall. Moore was critically injured and was lifted immediately but died shortly thereafter.


9. Alex Zanardi loses his Legs

In 2001, on the Euro Speedway Lausitz, driver Alex Zanardi suffered the worst crash of his career till now. While attempting to drive back onto the track after a pit stop, Zanardi twirled out and was ultimately broadsided by the car driven by Alex Tagliani. The front of half of Zanardi’s car was clipped off, and took Zanardi’s legs with it. Zanardi lost three quarters of his blood, but the medical crew managed to save his life. Alex Zanardi still races today with the aid of prosthetic legs.


10. Tetsuya Ota Crash

The crash did not look so bad at first. But then the real crash took place. Tomohiko Sunako, the driver of the Porsche, fractured one of his legs. Although, it was the driver of the Ferrari, Tetsuya Ota, who had problems. Tetsuya was trapped inside his car for 90 seconds, exposed to 800-degree heat, until a fellow driver stopped and pulled over, to help him. The safety marshals finally did show up and made Tetsuya lay on his back, which caused melted visor on his helmet to droop onto his face causing further burns. Tetsuya ultimately happened to survive, but his racing career was over.


11. Ayrton Senna’s Fatal Crash

Many consider him the greatest racing driver of all time. Unlike the earlier entries, the crash he faced is not particularly dramatic. The crash instantly killed him. Although this was the crash that killed a legend, a crash that shook motor racing to its core.


12. Dale Earnhardt’s Fatal Crash

Dale Earnhardt’s was one of the most popular racecar drivers in NASCAR, and his death shook American motor racing. The crash is famous for appearing so minimal similar to the Seena’s. The racer died of a basilar skull fracture. The accident would have been prevented if Earnhardt had not refused to wear a HANS’s device, which would have protected him from such an injury. Due to this crash, HANS’s devices are made mandatory.


13. Jim Clark’s Fatal Crash

Jim Clark could possibly have been the most successful racing driver of all time, outdoing Schumacher, Fangio, and Senna if he had lived the accident. He died in a Formula Two race at the Hockenheimring in Germany. Clark’s Lotus went off the track, and into the trees, n the fifth lap. Clark’s neck broke, and his skull was fractured. He could not make it to the hospital. The cause of the accident was thought to be a deflating rear tire.


14. Niki Lauda – 1976 Nurburgring

The Nordschleife is one of the most amazing race tracks in the world. In 1976, the 14 mile track was considered to be no longer suitable for modern F1 safety regulations and television broadcasts. Niki Lauda, one of the greatest drivers in the sport, attempted to boycott the race based on those safety concerns. The other drivers overrode Niki’s suggestion, and as fate would have it, it was Niki only who was almost burned to death during the race. They were three of his fellow drivers who pulled him out of his car and saved Niki. Although the race officials had a Porsche, they weren’t quick enough to get there early.


15. Bruce Allen – Drag Race

This would be the scene when the drag racers would collide. When drag racer Bruce Allen lost control of his vehicle, he veered off left, directly into the path of Ken Koretsky. Fortunately both of them survived. Allen suffered a concussion, and Koretsky a bruised heart. It was nearly unbelievable to consider that Koretsky actually watched the engine from Allen’s car come smashing through his windshield.

August 1st, 2011    No Comments »

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